Editorial: How to Avoid Zoom Fatigue

By: Vivian Wang

PLACENTIA, CA – Penn State University’s Alyssa Cimino states that the average American spends approximately 10 hours and 39 minutes a day using screens. Screen time on devices encompasses TVs, smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers, and other devices with screens. After spending countless hours using technology, an individual might experience Zoom fatigue. Zoom fatigue refers to the experience in which an individual feels exhausted from having several online video meetings on Zoom.

Researchers from Stanford University have investigated why individuals experience Zoom fatigue, with some of the underlying issues including excessive eye contact and constant video reflections. During Zoom meetings, an individual feels inclined to constantly make eye contact with their camera since everyone is looking at the screen at the same time. Additionally, Zoom users may find themselves constantly staring at their own video reflection and becoming self-conscious of how they appear on camera.

To mitigate Zoom fatigue, it is important to allocate a designated daily off-screen time, whether it be in the morning or night. Huffington Post’s Chloe Tejada explains that checking one’s smartphone at the beginning of the day can lead to a “all the things I’ve missed since yesterday” mentality. Taking time away from technology in the beginning of the day can lead to increased mindfulness and self-awareness, Tejada iterates.

Since one of the largest factors of Zoom fatigue originates from the ability to view one’s video, another way to address Zoom fatigue is to use the “hide self view” function on Zoom. Hiding self view will prevent oneself from viewing how they appear on camera so that they do not constantly stare at their video appearance. To switch on the “hide self view” option on Zoom, the user should right click on their profile and then select the option to hide their view. LIbby Sander and Oliver Bauman from TED assert that being able to constantly view one’s own face can increase one’s self-consciousness and anxiety. Utilizing the “hide self view” function will allow a Zoom user to focus on the meeting rather than how they appear on camera.

Sitting for extended periods of time with a camera pointed at an individual can become extremely uncomfortable and exhausting. Vignesh Ramachandran from Stanford University outlines a solution; taking a short stretch break with a camera off time will help with the fatigue. When compared to an audio call, video conferencing becomes much more rigid for a caller as they cannot multitask, whether it be with sorting laundry or cleaning a room. Video calls require the caller to be present and constantly viewed by other meeting participants. As such, Ramachandran encourages all video conferencing participants to frequently turn away from their devices so that their bodies can reset. Ramachandran also recommends that individuals using video calling platforms should try to minimize the window so that their face does not fill up their entire computer screen.